This morning I logged onto twitter and saw a Bold As Love Magazine post that Dumi (@dumilewis) tweeted highlighting a music track that powerfully resonates with me, as someone who engages in cop watch work. “Film the Police” by B. Dolan featuring Toki Wright, Jasiri X, Buddy Peace, and Sage Francis calls on people to start doing exactly what the title says: film the police.
Why is it important to film the cops? For far too long we’ve seen and experienced instances of cops abusing their power and brutalizing people. What has typically been happening all along in low-income and people of color communities, has since been given greater attention lately because of stories of police misconduct towards Occupy Movement folks and of police detaining elected officials without good reason. Stopping to film the cops when you notice them stopping a stranger or community member, could mean: the difference between life and death, the difference between being physically or verbally brutalized and going home or to the precinct in one piece, and being able to be a witness to someone or hand over video footage to them if it’ll help their case. If enough people start filming the cops we can create a culture of caring for one another and showing that through literally watching each other’s backs. Whether you record the police individually or within an organized cop watch team, it is valuable. We don’t have to stand by and let cops brutalize people. We don’t have to feel helpless or just accept things the way they are. Filming the police is a great start to taking power back from the police and putting it into the hands of the people. Next time you see cops stopping someone in the street pull out your camera phone and film it (within a reasonable distance, i.e. not too close so that you may be interfering with the arrest). And if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you could also just watch with your own eyes, too. Whether you’re out in the street or upstairs in your home looking out the window like the song says…
Peep these Know Your Rights resources below: (it’s important to know what your rights are, especially if you’ll be filming or observing police)
Know Your Rights Info, What to Expect When Arrested In NY, and Observing the Police by activist attorney Kamau Franklin